08/22/13 — First peek at a new year

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First peek at a new year

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 22, 2013 1:46 PM

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Student ambassadors wait to escort incoming freshmen to their homerooms during freshmen and new student orientation at Eastern Wayne High School on Wednesday. Public schools across the county are holding open houses this week, with elementary schools opening their doors to students today. Classes start Monday.

Greg Lamm was braced for the steady stream of students coming into his office late Wednesday afternoon with class schedule changes.

Even though the sign on the counselor's door at Rosewood High School announced that no schedule changes would be made after a certain time, Lamm spent the bulk of the open house advising students and redirecting them.

"We have been doing it for two weeks," Lamm said of the scheduling process. "Tonight what we're doing for students, basically, is we've switched from N.C. Wise to PowerSchool (automated system that handles everything from attendance records to bus routes and grades)."

There are still a few kinks to be worked out with the computer system, introduced earlier in the summer throughout the state.

"The transition has been as smooth as it could be," Lamm said. "But with that being said, schedules are not in the best shape, but they will be by Monday.

"We pretty much went through and hand-scheduled them."

The effort was not as much of a problem as it might be at some of the larger schools, Lamm said. Still, he said that Rosewood did experience a bit of a surge to its enrollment this year, with 150 incoming freshmen.

"We usually have 115 to 120," he said.

Emily Kornegay will be in seventh grade at Rosewood Middle School this year. She was at the high school with her parents and brother, Evan, 15, a ninth-grader starting high school.

"We're just about to go to his homeroom to get his schedule," said her dad, Jeff Kornegay, who also graduated from Rosewood at its former location.

His wife, Michelle, was also comfortable in her surroundings, since she teaches physical education just up the road at Rosewood Elementary School.

"So I have had all these children ever since they were little," she said.

At the end of one hallway, Temera Wright was giving directions where needed.

"Love it, love it!" she said of the influx of students. "I'm seeing happy faces more on parents than students."

Beginning her eighth year at the school, the instructional assistant works in the Occupational Course of Study, or OCS, a self-contained program that prepares students for the workforce.

The program recently underwent a curriculum change, said OCS teacher Myra Johnson, who is new to the school this year.

Principal Dean Sauls, reflecting the school colors in a deep purple shirt, said the open house turnout was good and had been non-stop since the doors opened. The high school gave ninth-graders a head start on the open house and allowed them to arrive early.

"We decided to let them go visit their homeroom, get some advice from their homeroom teachers, who will be their adviser for four years," he said. "They have got two hours to tour the school before the upper-class kids come in."

Like Lamm, he has been preparing for the arrival of students.

"The thing is, this year we had 117 graduated, but are bringing in 150 (freshmen) from the eighth-grade class," he said. "That means every class is going to have a few more students because we didn't hire more people."

Ninth-grader Jana Foote seemed unaffected by all the hoopla. The open house might signal the return to school in a few days, but she was ready to find her schedule, which consists of "just some honors classes," she said.

At neighboring Rosewood Middle School, Linda Babb greeted parents and students, fielded questions and offered help where needed. This is her 25th year at the school, she said.

"Even though he's the principal," she joked, gesturing to the hallway where Kevin Smith stood, "I'm in charge."

Smith said this year's open house had been split in two to accommodate the school's newest students. Allowing sixth-graders and their parents to come in early is a "positive change," he said, especially for those unfamiliar with the school or his administrative style.

One thing the rural school is perhaps best known for, he said, is its generational appeal.

"To be a community school, it's good to see parents and grandkids come in and say, 'This was my classroom,'" Smith said. "To see all the different generations come in and talk about their memories of this building.

"But we're ready to go. We're really excited about the school year. We'll probably have about 430, which is close to the previous year."

The second round of open house events will be held this evening at elementary schools, as well as K-8 Grantham School, from 5-7 p.m. Edgewood Community Developmental School scheduled appointments with parents for today, and Eastern Wayne Middle School is holding a sixth-grade open house from 5-7 p.m. in the gym.